Shorter University, a Christian university located in Rome, GA, adopted several new policies in late October, including a "Personal Lifestyle Statement," which asks faculty and university employees to "reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality."
Failure to adhere to the statement could result in disciplinary action or immediate termination, according to language on Shorter University's website. The document also asks that faculty not promote the use of illegal drugs or alcohol.
Shorter University, which offers four-year degrees in theatre and musical theatre, has previously hosted master classes with writers including John Bucchino, Georgia Stitt and the songwriting team of Justin Pasek and Benj Paul. The university is currently staging the Tony-winning musical She Loves Me.
On Nov. 2, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk shared their letter to the university via their own website, outlining why they felt they could not participate in the master class, as well as a reply from Shorter officials.
The letter follows: Dear President Dowless, Dean Wingard, and Shorter Board of Trustees -
My writing partner Brian Lowdermilk and I are engaged to come to Shorter University to lead a master class with the your musical theater students on November 21st, 2011. Due to Shorter’s recent policy shifts requiring all employees to sign a “Personal Lifestyle” pledge agreeing to reject homosexuality and premarital sex, we cannot attend.
As long as this policy is in place we will not be able to work with Shorter University. Furthermore, we will encourage our large fan-base of teenagers to avoid your school and encourage other theater artists to avoid working with you as well.
We believe that all men and women have the right to marry, date, and have sex with any consenting adult they choose and we believe that it is none of your business nor is it any of ours. We hope that you will recant this truly backwards policy.
Please consider this correspondence a termination of our engagement.
Sincerely, Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk
Shorter University President Don Dowless responded with the following correspondence:
Dear Kait and Brian,
Thank you for letting us know. I agree that working together would be incompatible.
Kerrigan told Playbill.com that she and Lowdermilk were in the early stages of working on a future Georgia master class for students that will not be associated with the Shorter.
Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's shows include The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, Tales from the Bad Years, Freshman Experiment, The Woman Upstairs and Henry and Mudge. Their album, "Our First Mistake," featuring Kelli O'Hara, Laura Osnes, Michael Arden and Matt Doyle, was released earlier this year by Sh-K-Boom Records.